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A graduate school (sometimes shortened to grad school) is a
school A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is sometimes compuls ...

school
that awards advanced
academic degree An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. These institutions commonly offer degrees at various levels, usually including Bach ...
s (e.g.,
master's A master's degree (from Latin ) is an academic degree awarded by University, universities or colleges upon completion of a course of study demonstrating mastery or a high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of Profession, professio ...
and
doctoral The cover of the thesis presented by Claude Bernard to obtain his Doctor of Medicine">Claude_Bernard.html" ;"title="thesis presented by Claude Bernard">thesis presented by Claude Bernard to obtain his Doctor of Medicine degree (1843) A doctorat ...

doctoral
degrees) with the general requirement that students must have earned a previous
undergraduate Undergraduate education ieducationconducted after secondary education and prior to postgraduate education. It typically includes all postsecondary programs up to the level of a bachelor's degree. For example, in the United States, an entry-level ...
(
bachelor's A bachelor's degree (from Middle Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area a ...
) degree. A distinction is typically made between graduate schools (where courses of study vary in the degree to which they provide training for a particular profession) and
professional school Professional development is learning to earn or maintain professional credentials such as academic degrees to formal coursework, attending conferences, and informal learning Informal learning is characterized “by a low degree of planning and ...
s, which offer specialized advanced degrees in professional fields such as
medicine Medicine is the science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (proced ...

medicine
,
nursing Nursing is a profession within the health care Healthcare is the maintenance or improvement of health Health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being Well-being, also known as ''wellness'', ''prudential value'' or ''qual ...

nursing
,
business Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (such as goods and services). Simply put, it is "any activity or enterprise entered into for profit." Having a business name A trad ...

business
,
engineering Engineering is the use of scientific principles to design and build machines, structures, and other items, including bridges, tunnels, roads, vehicles, and buildings. The discipline of engineering encompasses a broad range of more specializ ...

engineering
,
speech–language pathology Speech–language pathology (or speech and language pathology) is a field of expertise practiced by a clinician A clinician is a health care Health care, health-care, or healthcare is the maintenance or improvement of health via the preventive ...
, or
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its boundari ...
. The distinction between graduate schools and professional schools is not absolute since various professional schools offer graduate degrees and vice versa. Many
universities A university () is an of (or ) and which awards s in several . Universities typically offer both and programs in different schools or faculties of learning. The word ''university'' is derived from the ''universitas magistrorum et scholari ...

universities
award graduate degrees; a graduate school is not necessarily a separate institution. While the term "graduate school" is typical in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
and often used elsewhere (e.g.,
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, Pacific and northward into the Arctic Oce ...

Canada
), "
postgraduate education Postgraduate education (graduate education in ) involves learning and studying for or s, academic or professional certificates, academic or professional diplomas, or other qualifications for which a first or generally is required, and it is n ...
" is also used in English-speaking countries (Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, and the UK) to refer to the spectrum of education beyond a bachelor's degree. Those attending graduate schools are called "graduate students" (in both
American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is ...
and
British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage and is employed by a populatio ...
), or often in British English as "postgraduate students" and, colloquially, "postgraduates" and "postgrads". Degrees awarded to graduate students include master's degrees, doctoral degrees, and other postgraduate qualifications such as graduate certificates and
professional degree A professional degree, formerly known in the US as a first professional degree, is a degree that prepares someone to work in a particular profession A Profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold ...
s. Producing
original research Research is " creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization and analysis of information to increase understanding of a topic or issue. A research project may be an expa ...
is a significant component of graduate studies in the
humanities Humanities are List of academic disciplines, academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with Divinity (academic discipline), divinity and referred to what is now called classic ...

humanities
,
natural sciences Natural science is a Branches of science, branch of science concerned with the description, understanding and prediction of Phenomenon, natural phenomena, based on empirical evidence from observation and experimentation. Mechanisms such as peer ...
and
social sciences Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biol ...

social sciences
. This research typically leads to the writing and
defense Defense or defence may refer to: Tactical, martial, and political acts or groups * Defense (military) A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is ty ...
of a
thesis or dissertation A thesis, or dissertation (abbreviated diss.), is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher edu ...
. In graduate programs that are oriented toward professional training (e.g.,
MPA MPA or mPa may refer to: Academia Academic degrees * Master of Performing Arts * Master of Professional Accountancy * Master of Public Administration * Master of Public Affairs Schools * Mesa Preparatory Academy * Morgan Park Academy * Mounds ...
,
MBA A Master of Business Administration (MBA; also Master's in Business Administration) is a graduate degree Postgraduate education (graduate education in North America) involves learning and studying for Academic degree, academic or profession ...
, MHA), the degrees may consist solely of coursework, without an original research or thesis component. The term "graduate school" is primarily
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
n. Additionally, in North America, the term does not usually refer to
medical school A medical school is a tertiary education Tertiary education, also referred to as third-level, third-stage or post-secondary education, is the education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowled ...
(whose students are called "medical students"), and only occasionally refers to
law school A law school (also known as a law centre or college of law) is an institution specializing in legal education Legal education is the education of individuals in the principles, practices, and theory of law Law is a system A syste ...
or
business school A business school is a university-level institution that confers degrees in business administration Business administration (also known as business management) is the administration of a commercial enterprise. It includes all aspects of overse ...

business school
; these are often collectively termed professional schools. Graduate students in the humanities, sciences and social sciences often receive funding from the school (e.g., fellowships or
scholarship A scholarship is an award of financial aid Student financial aid in the United States is funding that is available exclusively to students attending a Higher education in the United States, post-secondary educational institution in the United ...

scholarship
s) or a
teaching assistant Image:US_Navy_061026-N-5271J-014_Jennifer_Tonder_(right),_a_teacher's_aide_for_a_3rd-4th_grade_multi-age_class,_discusses_the_various_books_available_from_the_Reading_Is_Fundamental_(RIF)_grant_given_to_Sasebo_Elementary_School_with.jpg, 300px, A t ...
position or other job; in the profession-oriented grad programs, students are less likely to get funding, and the fees are typically much higher. Although graduate school programs are distinct from undergraduate degree programs, graduate instruction (in the US, Australia, and other countries) is often offered by some of the same senior academic staff and departments who teach undergraduate courses. Unlike in undergraduate programs, however, it is less common for graduate students to take
coursework Coursework is work performed by students A student is primarily a person enrolled in a school A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students (or "pup ...
outside their specific field of study at graduate or graduate entry level. At the Ph.D. level, though, it is quite common to take courses from a wider range of study, for which some fixed portion of coursework, sometimes known as a ''residency'', is typically required to be taken from outside the department and
college A college (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in rel ...

college
of the degree-seeking candidate, to broaden the research abilities of the student.


Australia


Brazil

Graduate degrees in Brazil are called "postgraduate" degrees and can be taken only after undergraduate education has been completed. * ''Lato sensu'' graduate degrees: degrees that represent a specialization in a certain area and take from 1 to 2 years to complete. It can sometimes be used to describe a specialization level between a master's degree and an MBA. In that sense, the main difference is that the Lato Sensu courses tend to go deeper into the scientific aspects of the study field, while MBA programs tend to be more focused on the practical and professional aspects, being used more frequently to Business, Management and Administration areas. However, since there are no norms to regulate this, both names are used indiscriminately most of the time. * ''Stricto sensu'' graduate degrees: degrees for those who wish to pursue an academic career. ** Masters: 2 years for completion. Usually serves as additional qualification for those seeking a differential on the job market (and maybe later a PhD), or for those who want to pursue a PhD. Most doctoral programs in Brazil require a master's degree (stricto sensu), meaning that a ''lato sensu'' degree is usually insufficient to start a doctoral program. ** Doctors / PhD: 3–4 years for completion. Usually used as a stepping stone for academic life.


Canada

In
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, Pacific and northward into the Arctic Oce ...

Canada
, the Schools and Faculties of Graduate Studies are represented by the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies (CAGS) or Association canadienne pour les études supérieures (ACES). The Association brings together 58 Canadian universities with graduate programs, two national graduate student associations, and the three federal research-granting agencies and organizations having an interest in graduate studies. Its mandate is to promote, advance, and foster excellence in graduate education and university research in Canada. In addition to an annual conference, the association prepares briefs on issues related to graduate studies including supervision, funding, and professional development.


Admission

Admission to a master's program generally requires a bachelor's degree in a related field, with sufficiently high
grade Grade or grading may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Grade (band) Grade is a melodic hardcore band from Canada, often credited as pioneers in blending metallic hardcore with the hon and melody of emo, and - most notably - the alternating scr ...
s usually ranging from B+ and higher (note that different schools have different letter grade conventions, and this requirement may be significantly higher in some faculties) and recommendations from professors. Some schools require samples of the student's writing as well as a
research proposal A research proposal is a document proposing a research Research is "creativity, creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization, and analysis of information to increas ...
. At English-speaking universities, applicants from countries where English is not the primary language are required to submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (
TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL ) is a standardized test A standardized test is a test Test(s), testing, or TEST may refer to: * Test (assessment), an educational assessment intended to measure the respondents' knowledge or ...
). Admission to a doctoral program typically requires a master's degree in a related field, sufficiently high grades, recommendations, samples of writing, a research proposal, and an interview with a prospective supervisor. Requirements are often set higher than those for a master's program. In exceptional cases, a student holding an honours BA with sufficiently high grades and proven writing and research abilities may be admitted directly to a Ph.D. program without the requirement to first complete a master's. Many Canadian graduate programs allow students who start in a master's to "reclassify" into a Ph.D. program after satisfactory performance in the first year, bypassing the master's degree. Students must usually declare their research goal or submit a research proposal upon entering graduate school; in the case of master's degrees, there will be some flexibility (that is, one is not held to one's research proposal, although major changes, for example from premodern to modern history, are discouraged). In the case of Ph.D.s, the research direction is usually known as it will typically follow the direction of the master's research. Master's degrees can be completed in one year but normally take at least two; they typically may not exceed five years. Doctoral degrees require a minimum of two years but frequently take much longer, although not usually exceeding six years.


Funding

Graduate students may take out
student loans A student loan is a type of loan In finance, a loan is the lending of money by one or more individuals, organizations, or other entities to other individuals, organizations etc. The recipient (i.e., the borrower) incurs a debt and is usuall ...
, but instead they often work as
teaching Education is the process of facilitating learning Learning is the process of acquiring new understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, value (personal and cultural), values, attitudes, and preferences. The ability to learn is possessed ...
or
research assistant #REDIRECT Research assistantA research assistant, or RA, is a researcher employed, often on a temporary contract, by a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher ...
s. Students often agree, as a condition of acceptance to a programme, not to devote more than twelve hours per week to work or outside interests. Various universities in Canada have different policies in terms of how much funding is available. This funding may also be different within a university in each of the disciplines. Many universities offer Evening MBA programs where students are able to work full-time while obtaining an MBA through evening classes, which allows them to pay their way through school. For Masters students, funding is generally available to first-year students whose
transcripts
transcripts
reflect exceptionally high grades; this funding can also be obtained in the second year of studies. Funding for Ph.D. students comes from a variety of sources, and many universities waive tuition fees for doctoral candidates (This may also occur for masters students of some universities). Funding is available in the form of
scholarship A scholarship is an award of financial aid Student financial aid in the United States is funding that is available exclusively to students attending a Higher education in the United States, post-secondary educational institution in the United ...

scholarship
s, bursaries and other awards, both private and public.


Requirements for completion

Both master's and doctoral programs may be done by
coursework Coursework is work performed by students A student is primarily a person enrolled in a school A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students (or "pup ...
or research or a combination of the two, depending on the subject and
faculty Faculty may refer to: * Faculty (academic staff), the academic staff of a university (North American usage) * Faculty (division), a division within a university (usage outside of the United States) * Faculty (instrument), an instrument or warrant ...
. Most faculties require both, with the emphasis on research, and with coursework being directly related to the field of research. Master's candidates undertaking research are typically required to complete a
thesis A thesis, or dissertation (abbreviated diss.), is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher ed ...
comprising some original research and ranging from 70 to 200 pages. Some fields may require candidates to study at least one foreign language if they have not already earned sufficient foreign-language credits. Some faculties require candidates to
defend their thesis
defend their thesis
, but many do not. Those that do not often have a requirement of taking two additional courses, minimum, in lieu of preparing a thesis. Ph.D. candidates undertaking research must typically complete a thesis, or dissertation, consisting of original research representing a significant contribution to their field, and ranging from 200 to 500 pages. Most Ph.D. candidates will be required to sit
comprehensive examination In higher education, a comprehensive examination (or comprehensive exam or exams), often abbreviated as "comps", is a specific type of examination that must be completed by graduate students in some disciplines and courses of study, and also by und ...
s—examinations testing general knowledge in their field of specialization—in their second or third year as a prerequisite to continuing their studies, and must defend their thesis as a final requirement. Some faculties require candidates to earn sufficient credits in a third or fourth foreign language; for example, most candidates in modern Japanese topics must demonstrate ability in English,
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of J ...

Japanese
, and
Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration o ...
, while candidates in pre-modern Japanese topics must demonstrate ability in English, Japanese,
Classical Chinese Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese (古文 ''gǔwén'' "ancient text", or 文言 ''wényán'' "text speak"; Written vernacular Chinese, modern vernacular: 文言文 ''wényánwén'' "text speak text"), is the language of the cla ...
, and
Classical Japanese language The classical Japanese language ( ''bungo'', "literary language"), also called "old writing" ( ''kobun''), sometimes simply called "Medieval Japanese" is the literary form A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be ...
. At English-speaking Canadian universities, both master's and Ph.D. theses may be presented in English or in the language of the subject (
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
for
German literature German literature () comprises those literary Literature broadly is any collection of written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Seman ...
, for example), but if this is the case, an extensive abstract must be also presented in English. In exceptional circumstances, a thesis may be presented in French. French-speaking universities have varying sets of rules; some will accept students with little knowledge of French if they can communicate with their supervisors (usually in English).


France

The ''écoles doctorales'' ("
Doctoral school In France, a doctoral school () is an educational structure similar in focus to a graduate school but restricted to PhD level. The concept was created in 2000. Doctoral schools have the responsibility of providing students with structured doctoral ...
s") are educational structures similar in focus to graduate schools, but restricted at PhD level. These schools have the responsibilities of providing students with a structured doctoral training in a disciplinary field. The field of the school is related to the strength of the university: while some have two or three schools (typically "Arts and Humanities" and "Natural and Technological Sciences"), others have more specialized schools (History, Aeronautics, etc.). Admission to a doctoral program requires a master's degree, both research-oriented and disciplinary focused. High marks are required (typically a ''très bien'' honour, equating a ''cum laude''), but the acceptance is linked to a decision of the School Academical Board. A large share of the funding offered to junior researchers is channeled through the ''école doctorale'', mainly in the shape of three-years "Doctoral Fellowships" (''contrats doctoraux''). These fellowships are awarded after submitting a biographical information, undergraduate and graduate transcripts where applicable, letters of recommendation, and research proposal, then an oral examination by an Academical Committee.


Germany

The traditional and most common way of obtaining a doctorate in Germany is by doing so individually under supervision of a single professor (''Doktorvater'' or ''Doktormutter'') without any formal curriculum. During their studies, doctoral students are enrolled at university while often being employed simultaneously either at the university itself, at a research institute or at a company as a researcher. Working in research during doctoral studies is, however, not a formal requirement. With the establishment of ''Graduiertenkollegs'' funded by the
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft The German Research Foundation (german: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft ; DFG ) is a Germany, German research funding organization, which functions as a self-governing institution for the promotion of science and research in the Federal Republic ...
(DFG), the German Research Foundation, in the early 1990s, the concept of a graduate school was introduced to the German higher education system. Unlike the American model of graduate schools, only doctoral students participate in a ''Graduiertenkolleg''. In contrast to the traditional German model of doctoral studies, a ''Graduiertenkolleg'' aims to provide young researchers with a structured doctoral training under supervision of a team of professors within an excellent research environment. A ''Graduiertenkolleg'' typically consists of 20-30 doctoral students, about half of whom are supported by stipends from the DFG or another sponsor. The research programme is usually narrowly defined around a specific topic and has an interdisciplinary aspect. The programme is set up for a specific period of time (up to nine years if funded by the DFG). The official English translation of the term ''Graduiertenkolleg'' is ''Research Training Group''. In 2006, a different type of graduate school, termed ''Graduiertenschule'' ("graduate school"), was established by the DFG as part of the
German Universities Excellence Initiative 350px, Map showing Germany's eleven elite "Universities of Excellence", in 2012 The Excellence Initiative of the German Council of Science and Humanities and the German Research Foundation aims to promote cutting-edge research and to create out ...
. They are thematically much broader than the focused ''Graduiertenkollegs'' and consist often of 100-200 doctoral students.


United Kingdom

The term "graduate school" is used more widely by North American universities than by those in the UK. However, in addition to universities set up purely as graduate schools such as
Cranfield University , mottoeng = After clouds light , established = 1946 - College of Aeronautics 1969 - Cranfield Institute of Technology (gained university status by royal charter) 1993 - Cranfield University (adopted current name) , type = Public In publ ...

Cranfield University
, numerous universities in the UK have formally launched graduate schools, including the
University of Birmingham The University of Birmingham (informally Birmingham University) is a public university, public research university located in Edgbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom. It received its royal charter in 1900 as a successor to Queen's College, Birmingh ...

University of Birmingham
,
Durham University , mottoeng = Her foundations are upon the holy hills ( Psalm 87:1) , established = (university status) , type = Public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the ...

Durham University
,
Keele University Keele University, officially known as the University of Keele, is a Public university#United Kingdom, public research university in Keele, approximately 3 miles from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England. Keele was granted university stat ...

Keele University
, the
University of Nottingham The University of Nottingham is a public university, public research university in Nottingham, United Kingdom. It was founded as University College Nottingham in 1881, and was granted a royal charter in 1948. The University of Nottingham belongs t ...
,
Bournemouth University Bournemouth University is a public university A public university or public college is a university or college that is in state ownership or receives significant Government spending, public funds through a national or subnational government, ...
,
Queen's University Belfast , native_name_lang = Irish , image_upright = , image_size = 150px , image_alt = Seal of Queen's University Belfast , caption = Coat of arms of Queen's University Belfast , latin_name = Universitas Reginae Belfastiae , motto = la, Pro t ...

Queen's University Belfast
and the
University of London The University of London (UoL; abbreviated as Lond or more rarely Londin in post-nominals Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, post-nominal titles, designatory letters or simply post-nominals, are letters placed after a p ...
, which includes graduate schools at
King's College London King's College London (informally King's or KCL) is a public university, public research university located in London, United Kingdom, and a founding college and Member institutions of the University of London, member institution of the f ...
,
Royal Holloway Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL), formally incorporated as Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, is a public university, public research university and a constituent college of the federal University of London. It has six schools, 21 ...
and
University College London University College London, which Trade name, operates as UCL, is a major public university , public research university located in London, United Kingdom. UCL is a Member institutions of the University of London, member institution of the Federa ...
. They often coordinate the supervision and training of candidates for
doctorates The cover of the thesis presented by Claude Bernard to obtain his Doctor of Medicine">Claude_Bernard.html" ;"title="thesis presented by Claude Bernard">thesis presented by Claude Bernard to obtain his Doctor of Medicine degree (1843). A doctora ...
.


United States


Admission

While most graduate programs will have a similar list of general admission requirements, the importance placed on each type of requirement can vary drastically between graduate schools, departments within schools, and even programs within departments. The best way to determine how a graduate program will weigh admission materials is to ask the person in charge of graduate admissions at the particular program being applied to. Admission to graduate school requires a bachelor's degree. High grades in one's field of study are important—grades outside the field less so. Traditionally in the past, the
Graduate Record Examination The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a standardized test A standardized test is a test Test(s), testing, or TEST may refer to: * Test (assessment), an educational assessment intended to measure the respondents' knowledge or other abilit ...
standardized test A standardized test is a test Test(s), testing, or TEST may refer to: * Test (assessment), an educational assessment intended to measure the respondents' knowledge or other abilities Arts and entertainment * Test (2013 film), ''Test'' (2013 fi ...
was required by almost all graduate schools, however, programs in multiple disciplines are removing the GRE requirement for their admission process. Some programs require other additional standardised tests (such as the
Graduate Management Admission Test The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT ( ())) is a computer adaptive test (CAT) intended to assess certain analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to a graduate management p ...
(GMAT) and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Subject Tests) to apply to their institutions.Dale Bloom, Jonathan Karp, Nicholas Cohen, ''The Ph.D. Process: A Student's Guide to Graduate School in the Sciences'', Oxford University Press, 1998, .Graduate School Admissions 101
About.com, accessed September 2, 2007
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, the GRE exam has moved to an online format, and some programs are waiving the GRE, arguing the new format is unfair or too difficult for test-takers. In addition, good
letters of recommendation
letters of recommendation
from undergraduate instructors are often essential,Recommendation Letters: Choosing Referees
About.com, accessed September 2, 2007.
as strong recommendation letters from mentors or supervisors of undergraduate research experience provide evidence that the applicant can perform research and can handle the rigors of a graduate school education. Within the sciences and some social sciences, previous research experience may be important.
About.com, accessed September 2, 2007.
By contrast, within most humanities disciplines, an example of academic writing normally suffices. Many universities require a personal statement (sometimes called
Statement of purpose A mission statement is a short statement of why an organization exists, what its overall goal is, identifying the goal of its operations: what kind of product or service it provides, its primary customers or Market (economics), market, and its ge ...
or
Letter of Intent A letter of intent (LOI or LoI, or Letter of Intent) is a document outlining the understanding between two or more parties which they intend to formalize in a legally binding agreement. The concept is similar to a heads of agreement, term sheet ...
), which may include indications of the intended area(s) of research; how detailed this statement is or whether it is possible to change one's focus of research depends strongly on the discipline and department to which the student is applying. In some disciplines or universities, graduate applicants may find it best to have at least one recommendation from their research work outside of the college where they earned their bachelor's degree; however, as with previous research experience, this may not be very important in most humanities disciplines. Some schools set minimum
GPA The pascal (symbol: Pa) is the SI derived unit SI derived units are units of measurement ' Measurement is the number, numerical quantification (science), quantification of the variable and attribute (research), attributes of an object or event ...
s and test scores below which they will not accept any applicants;GPA and Graduate School Admission
About.com, accessed September 2, 2007.
this reduces the time spent reviewing applications. On the other hand, many other institutions often explicitly state that they do not use any sort of cut-offs in terms of GPA or the GRE scores. Instead, they claim to consider many factors, including past research achievements, the compatibility between the applicant's research interest and that of the faculty, the statement of purpose and the letters of reference, as stated above. Some programs also require professors to act as sponsors. Finally, applicants from non-English speaking countries often must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (
TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL ) is a standardized test A standardized test is a test Test(s), testing, or TEST may refer to: * Test (assessment), an educational assessment intended to measure the respondents' knowledge or ...
).TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language
Educational Testing Service, accessed September 2, 2007.
At most institutions, decisions regarding admission are not made by the institution itself but the department to which the student is applying. Some departments may require interviews before making a decision to accept an applicant. Most universities adhere to the Council of Graduate Schools' Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees, and Assistants, which gives applicants until April 15 to accept or reject offers that contain financial support.


Non-degree seeking

In addition to traditional "degree-seeking" applications for admission, many schools allow students to apply as "non-degree-seeking". Admission to the non-degree-seeking category is usually restricted primarily to those who may benefit professionally from additional study at the graduate level. For example, current elementary, middle, and high school teachers wishing to gain re-certification credit most commonly apply as non-degree-seeking students.


Requirements for completion

Graduate students often declare their intended degree (master's or doctorate) in their applications. In some cases, master's programs allow successful students to continue toward the doctorate degree. Additionally, doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy but not filed a dissertation ("ABD", for " all but dissertation") often receive master's degrees and an additional master's called a
Master of Philosophy Master or masters may refer to: Ranks or titles * Ascended master, a term used in the Theosophical religious tradition to refer to spiritually enlightened beings who in past incarnations were ordinary humans * Grandmaster (chess), National Master, ...
(MPhil) or a
Candidate of PhilosophyCandidate of Philosophy can refer to the US degree or status of Candidate in Philosophy (C.Phil. or Ph.C.) granted to Ph.D. students who have been accepted as candidates for that degree, or (as a direct translation) to degrees or former degrees at ...
(C.Phil.) degree. The master's component of a doctorate program often requires one or two years. Many graduate programs require students to pass one or several examinations in order to demonstrate their competence as scholars. In some departments, a
comprehensive examination In higher education, a comprehensive examination (or comprehensive exam or exams), often abbreviated as "comps", is a specific type of examination that must be completed by graduate students in some disciplines and courses of study, and also by und ...
is often required in the first year of doctoral study, and is designed to test a student's background undergraduate-level knowledge. Examinations of this type are more common in the sciences and some social sciences but relatively unknown in most humanities disciplines. Most graduate students perform teaching duties, often serving as graders and tutors. In some departments, they can be promoted to
lecturer Lecturer is an academic rank within many universities, though the meaning of the term varies somewhat from country to country. It generally denotes an academic expert who is hired to teach on a full- or part-time basis. They may also conduct re ...

lecturer
status, a position that comes with more responsibility. Doctoral students generally spend roughly their first two to three years taking coursework and begin research by their second year if not before. Many master's and all specialist students will perform research culminating in a paper, presentation, and defense of their research. This is called the master's thesis (or, for Educational Specialist students, the specialist paper). However, many US master's degree programs do not require a master's thesis, focusing instead primarily on coursework or on "practicals" or "workshops". Some students complete a final culminating project or "capstone" rather than a thesis. Such "real-world" experience may typically require a candidate work on a project alone or in a team as a consultant, or consultants, for an outside entity approved or selected by the academic institution and under faculty supervision. In the second and third years of study, doctoral programs often require students to pass more examinations. Programs often require a Qualifying Examination ("Quals"), a PhD Candidacy Examination ("Candidacy"), or a General Examination ("Generals"), designed to ensure students have a grasp of a broad sample of their discipline, or one or several Special Field Examinations ("Specials"), which test students in their narrower selected areas of specialty within the discipline. If these examinations are held orally, they may be known colloquially as "orals." For some social science and many humanities disciplines, where graduate students may or may not have studied the discipline at the undergraduate level, these exams will be the first set and be based either on graduate coursework or specific preparatory reading (sometimes up to a year's work in reading). In all cases, comprehensive exams are normally both stressful and time-consuming and must be passed to be allowed to proceed on to the dissertation. Passing such examinations allows the student to stay, begin doctoral research, and rise to the status of a doctoral candidate, while failing usually results in the student leaving the program or re-taking the test after some time has passed (usually a semester or a year). Some schools have an intermediate category, passing at the master's level, which allows the student to leave with a master's without having completed a master's dissertation. For the next several years the doctoral candidate primarily performs his or her research. Usually this lasts three to eight years, though a few finish more quickly, and some take substantially longer. In total, the typical doctoral degree takes between four and eight years from entering the program to completion, though this time varies depending upon the department, dissertation topic, and many other factors. For example,
astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and celestial event, phenomena. It uses mathematics, phys ...
degrees take five to six years on average, but
observational astronomy Observation is the active acquisition of information from a primary source. In living beings, observation employs the senses. In science, observation can also involve the perception and recording of data (information), data via the use of scienti ...
degrees take six to seven due to limiting factors of weather, while
theoretical astronomy Theoretical astronomy is the use of the analytical models of physics and chemistry to describe astronomical objects and astronomical phenomena. Ptolemy Claudius Ptolemy (; grc-koi, Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, ''Klaúdios Ptolema ...
degrees take five. Though there is substantial variation among universities, departments, and individuals,
humanities Humanities are List of academic disciplines, academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with Divinity (academic discipline), divinity and referred to what is now called classic ...

humanities
and
social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist o ...

social science
doctorates on average take somewhat longer to complete than
natural science Natural science is a branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or ph ...

natural science
doctorates. These differences are due to the differing nature of research between the humanities and some social sciences and the natural sciences and to the differing expectations of the discipline in coursework, languages, and length of dissertation. However, time required to complete a
doctorate A doctorate (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republ ...

doctorate
also varies according to the candidate's abilities and choice of research. Some students may also choose to remain in a program if they fail to win an academic position, particularly in disciplines with a tight job market; by remaining a student, they can retain access to libraries and university facilities, while also retaining an academic affiliation, which can be essential for conferences and job-searches. Traditionally, doctoral programs were only intended to last three to four years, and in some disciplines (primarily the natural sciences), with a helpful advisor and a light teaching load, it is possible for the degree to be completed in that amount of time. However, increasingly many disciplines, including most humanities, set their requirements for coursework, languages, and the expected extent of dissertation research by the assumption that students will take five years minimum or six to seven years on average; competition for jobs within these fields also raises expectations on the length and quality of dissertations considerably. Competition for jobs within certain fields, such as the life sciences, is so great that almost all students now enter a second training period after graduate school called a postdoctoral fellowship. In total most life scientists will invest 12–14 years in low-paid training positions and only 14% will obtain tenure track jobs (Miller McCune, the real science gap). The average age at which life scientists obtain their first R01 grant to conduct independent research is now 42. In some disciplines, doctoral programs can average seven to ten years.
Archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complexity, complex topic or Substance theory, substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better underst ...
, which requires long periods of research, tends towards the longer end of this spectrum. The increase in length of the degree is a matter of great concern for both students and universities, though there is much disagreement on potential solutions to this problem.


Funding

In general, there is less funding available to students admitted to master's degrees than for students admitted to Ph.D. or other doctoral degrees. Many departments, especially those in which students have research or teaching responsibilities, offer Ph.D. students tuition waivers and a stipend that pays for most expenses. At some elite universities, there may be a minimum stipend established for all Ph.D. students, as well as a tuition waiver. The terms of these stipends vary greatly, and may consist of a scholarship or fellowship, followed by teaching responsibilities. At many elite universities, these stipends have been increasing, in response both to student pressure and especially to competition among the elite universities for graduate students. In some fields, research positions are more coveted than teaching positions because student researchers are typically paid to work on the dissertation they are required to complete anyway, while teaching is generally considered a distraction from one's work. Research positions are more typical of science disciplines; they are relatively uncommon in humanities disciplines, and where they exist, rarely allow the student to work on their own research. Science PhD students can apply for individual NRSA fellowships from the
NIH The National Institutes of Health (NIH ) is the primary agency of the United States government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the national government of the United States ...
or fellowships from private foundations. US universities often also offer competitive support from NIH-funded training programs. One example is the Biotechnology Training Program – University of Virginia. Departments often have funds for limited discretionary funding to supplement minor expenses such as research trips and travel to conferences. A few students can attain funding through dissertation improvement grants funded by the
National Science Foundation The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent agency of the United States government Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups * Independents (artist group)The Independents were a group of ...

National Science Foundation
(NSF), or through similar programs in other agencies. Many students are also funded as lab researchers by faculty who have been funded by private foundations or by the NSF, National Institutes of Health (NIH), or federal "mission agencies" such as the
Department of DefenseDepartment of Defence or Department of Defense may refer to: Current departments of defence * Department of Defence (Australia) The Department of Defence (DoD) is a Government department, department of the Government of Australia charged with ...
or the
Environmental Protection Agency A biophysical environment is a and surrounding of an or , and consequently includes the factors that have an influence in their survival, development, and . A biophysical environment can vary in scale from to global in extent. It can also be ...
. The natural sciences are typically well funded, so that most students can attain either outside or institutional funding, but in the humanities, not all do. Some humanities students borrow money during their coursework, then take full-time jobs while completing their dissertations. Students in the social sciences are less well funded than are students in the natural and physical sciences, but often have more funding opportunities than students in the humanities, particularly as science funders begin to see the value of social science research. Funding differs greatly by departments and universities; some universities give five years of full funding to all Ph.D. students, though often with a teaching requirement attached; other universities do not. However, because of the teaching requirements, which can be in the research years of the Ph.D., even the best funded universities often do not have funding for humanities or social science students who need to do research elsewhere, whether in the United States or overseas. Such students may find funding through outside funders such as private foundations, such as the
German Marshall Fund The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) is a nonpartisan Nonpartisanism is a lack of affiliation with, and a lack of bias toward, a political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete ...
or the
Social Science Research Council The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is a US-based independent, international nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing research in the social sciences and related disciplines. Established in Manhattan in 1923, it today maintains a hea ...
(SSRC). Foreign students are typically funded the same way as domestic (US) students, although federally subsidized student and parent loans and work-study assistance are generally limited to U.S. citizens and nationals, permanent residents, and approved refugees. Moreover, some funding sources (such as many NSF fellowships) may only be awarded to domestic students. International students often have unique financial difficulties such as high costs to visit their families back home, support of a family not allowed to work due to
immigration law Immigration law refers to the national statuteA statute reffers to the body of law that are made by legislature of the nation with instrument which govern the state, country or any nation. it includes laws, rules and the reulation whichhas to be fol ...
s, tuition that is expensive by world standards, and large fees:
visa Visa most commonly refers to: *Visa Inc., a US multinational financial and payment cards company ** Visa Debit card issued by the above company ** Visa Electron, a debit card ** Visa Plus, an interbank network *Travel visa, a document that allows e ...
fees by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and
surveillance Surveillance is the monitoring of behavior, many activities, or information for the purpose of information gathering, influencing, managing Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization An organization, or org ...

surveillance
fees under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program of the
United States Department of Homeland Security The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the Federal government of the United States, U.S. United States federal executive departments, federal executive department responsible for public security, roughly comparable to the I ...
.


Graduate employee unions

At many universities, graduate students are employed by their university to teach classes or do research. While all graduate employees are graduate students, many graduate students are not employees. MBA students, for example, usually pay tuition and do not have paid teaching or research positions. In many countries graduate employees have collectively organized
labor union A trade union (or a labor union in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Cu ...
s in order to bargain a contract with their university. In Canada, for example, almost all graduate employees are members of a CUPE local. In the United States there are many graduate employee unions at public universities. The Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions lists 25 recognized unions at public universities on its website. Private universities, however, are covered under the
National Labor Relations Act The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (also known as the Wagner Act) is a foundational statute of that guarantees the right of private sector employees to organize into s, engage in , and take such as s. Central to the act was a ban on s. Th ...

National Labor Relations Act
rather than state labor laws and until 2001 there were no recognized unions at private universities. Many graduate students see themselves as akin to junior faculty, but with significantly lower pay. Many graduate students feel that teaching takes time that would better be spent on research, and many point out that there is a vicious circle in the academic labor economy. Institutions that rely on cheap graduate student labor have no need to create expensive professorships, so graduate students who have taught extensively in graduate school can find it immensely difficult to get a teaching job when they have obtained their degree. Many institutions depend heavily on graduate student teaching: a 2003 report by agitators for a graduate student union at Yale, for instance, claims that "70% of undergraduate teaching contact hours at Yale are performed by transient teachers: graduate teachers, adjunct instructors, and other teachers not on the tenure track." The state of
Michigan Michigan () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Michigan
leads in terms of progressive policy regarding graduate student unions with five universities recognizing graduate employee unions:
Central Michigan University Central Michigan University (CMU) is a public university, public research university in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Established in 1892, Central Michigan University has more than 20,000 students on its Mount Pleasant campus and 7,000 students enro ...

Central Michigan University
,
Michigan State University Michigan State University (MSU) is a in . MSU was founded in 1855 and served as a model for land-grant colleges and universities later created under the of 1862. The university was founded as the Agricultural College of the State of Mich ...
, the
University of Michigan , mottoeng = "Arts, Knowledge, Truth" , former_names = Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania (1817–1821) , budget = $8.99 billion (2018) , endowment = $17 billion (2021)As of October 25, 2021. ...

University of Michigan
,
Wayne State University Wayne State University (WSU) is a public university, public research university in Detroit, Detroit, Michigan. It is Michigan's third-largest university. Founded in 1868, Wayne State consists of 13 schools and colleges offering approximately 350 ...
, and
Western Michigan University Western Michigan University (WMU) is a public research university in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was established in 1903 by Dwight B. Waldo. Its enrollment, as of the Fall 2019 semester, was 21,470. It is Carnegie Classification of Institutions ...
. The
United Auto Workers The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, better known as the United Auto Workers (UAW), is an American labor union A trade union (or a labor union in American English), often simpl ...
(under the slogan "Uniting Academic Workers") and the
American Federation of Teachers The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is the second largest teacher's labor union A trade union (or a labor union in American English), often simply called a union, is an organization of workers who have come together to achieve many comm ...
are two international unions that represent graduate employees. Private universities' administrations often oppose their graduate students when they try to form unions, arguing that students should be exempt from labor laws intended for "employees". In some cases unionization movements have met with enough student opposition to fail. At the schools where graduate employees are unionized, which positions are unionized vary. Sometimes only one set of employees will unionize (e.g. teaching assistants, residential directors); at other times, most or all will. Typically, fellowship recipients, usually not employed by their university, do not participate. When negotiations fail, graduate employee unions sometimes go on
strike Strike may refer to: People *Strike (surname) Physical confrontation or removal *Strike (attack), attack with an inanimate object or a part of the human body intended to cause harm *Airstrike, military strike by air forces on either a suspected o ...
. While graduate student unions can use the same types of strikes that other unions do, they have also made use of
teach-in A teach-in is similar to a general educational forum on any complicated issue, usually an issue involving current political affairs. The main difference between a teach-in and a seminar A seminar is a form of academic instruction, either at an a ...
s, work-ins, marches, rallies, and ''grade strikes''. In a grade strike, graduate students refuse to grade exams and papers and, if the strike lasts until the end of the academic term, also refuse to turn in final grades. Another form of job action is known as "work-to-rule", in which graduate student instructors work exactly as many hours as they are paid for and no more.


See also

*
Doctorate A doctorate (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republ ...

Doctorate
*
Doctor of Philosophy A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Throug ...
*
EURODOC#REDIRECT Eurodoc Eurodoc, the European Council for Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers, is an international federation of 28 national associations of doctoral candidates and early career researchers (pre-doctoral or post-doctoral researche ...
(European Council of Doctoral Candidates and junior researchers) * History of higher education in the United States#Graduate schools * List of fields of doctoral studies *
List of postgraduate-only institutionsThe following is a list of brick and mortar institutions that primarily offer postgraduate degrees with distinction in research publication and research. By category By country ;Austria *Austrian Institute of Technology ;Belgium *College of E ...
* ''
Piled Higher and Deeper ''Piled Higher and Deeper'' (also known as ''PhD Comics''), is a newspaper and webcomic strip written and drawn by Jorge Cham that follows the lives of several grad students. First published in 1997 when Cham was a grad student himself at Stanford ...
'' (widely read graduate school oriented comic strip) *
Professional association A professional association (also called a professional body, professional organization, or professional society) usually seeks to further Further or Furthur may refer to: *Furthur (bus), ''Furthur'' (bus), the Merry Pranksters' psychedelic bus ...
*
Professional certification Professional certification, trade certification, or professional designation, often called simply ''certification'' or ''qualification'', is a designation earned by a person to assure qualification to perform a job or task. Not all certifications ...


Notes


References

* William G. Bowen & Neil L. Rudenstine, ''In Pursuit of the PhD'' (Princeton UP, 1992; ). A comprehensive report on graduate education in the US from the 1960s to the 1990s, based on surveys of tens of thousands of graduate students.


Further reading

* Huang, Ying.
Transitioning Challenges Faced by Chinese Graduate Students
" '' Adult Learning''. August 2012. Volume 23, Issue 3. p. 138-147. Available at
SAGE Journals SAGE Publishing, formerly SAGE Publications, is an independent business, independent publishing company founded in 1965 in New York by Sara Miller McCune and now based in Newbury Park, California. It publishes more than 1,000 journals, more than ...
. doi: 10.1177/1045159512452861.


External links


Growth of the PhD
- Discusses innovations in doctoral training.
How I Got Into the Stanford Psychology Ph.D. Program
- One student's experiences when applying to graduate programs in psychology. Includes helpful explanations and tips for all stages of the application process.
Guide to applying to PhD
- Covers selecting the right CS program, taking tests, recommendations, and statement of purpose from a professor who has been on the admissions committee for
Carnegie Mellon Carnegie may refer to: *Carnegie (surname), including a list of people with the name Institutions Named for Andrew Carnegie *The Carnegie Building (Troy, New York), Carnegie Building, on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute *Carnegie ...
,
MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private land-grant research university A research university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, hi ...

MIT
, Berkeley.
Free Advice On Applying To Graduate School (PDF)
- Written by a professor of psychology at
Portland State University Portland State University (PSU) is a Public university, public research university in Portland, Oregon. It was founded in 1946 as a post-secondary educational institution for World War II veterans. It evolved into a four-year college over the foll ...
. {{DEFAULTSORT:Graduate School School types id:Pascasarjana tr:Lisansüstü eğitim birimi